I first came to really know Mike Harrington in 1976 on a lecture tour in India arranged by the USIA for International Women’s Year. My tour included a small conference on “Social Diversity, Economic Inequality and Political Integration” at a remote place called Gupalpur-on-sea on the south coast. Waiting before 6:00am in the Calcutta airport, I saw a man who towered over the other passengers; unbelievably it was Michael Harrington, who was also scheduled to attend.
The conference was small, situated in a remote hotel. The talk was intense. It was attended by a handful of Indians and American Fulbright scholars, mostly political scientists with a radical past who seemed to have been deeply affected by their year in India. The Indian scholars seemed to move effortlessly between a dispassionate social scientific approach to the problems we were addressing (such as whether the road to modernization should follow the Chinese model, and what the consequences would be for democracy of the “emergency” declared by Indira Gandhi just before we came) and thought that they characterized as a “higher consciousness.” Many of the Americans found the leap to spirituality engaging. Mike and I banded with the very tew whom we regarded as consistently reasoned, objective as to the facts, and oriented toward this world....
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